Randy P. Conner, “Rainbow’s Children: Diversity of Gender and Sexuality in African-Diasporic Spiritual Traditions,” in Fragments of Bone: Neo-African Religions in a New World, ed. by Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, pp. 145
Randy P. Conner, “Rainbow’s Children: Diversity of Gender and Sexuality in African-Diasporic Spiritual Traditions,” in Fragments of Bone: Neo-African Religions in a New World, ed. by Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, pp. 143-144
Roots… I see so many similarities between this Misa and the Ring Shout traditions of the African American south, Hatian Vodun & Shango Baptist ceremony
The Ocha house I came out of was one that veered more towards the Nigerian way of doing things. However the way we cultivated egun/ancestors reflected our Spanish Afro-Carribean Espirtismo inheritances. Eventually our misas became a bit less “old school”. Makes me nostalgic about a time in my life when i was always having to raid the stores for white flowers and cigars nearly every other weekend.
Espiritismo can be really tough at times but so good for keeping your head on straight and able to handle life and not be handled by it…
Oriki Oshun (Yoruba, Translated by Ulli Beier)
Brass and parrot feathers on velvet skin. White cowrie shells on black buttocks. Her eyes sparkle in the forest she is the wisdom of the river. Where the doctor failed she cures with fresh water, where medicine is impotent she cures with cool water.
She cures the child and does not charge the father. She feeds the barren woman with honey and her dry body swells up like a juicy palm fruit.
Oh how sweet is the touch of Oshun’s hand!
God is too busy to rescue drowning children, too busy to stop the flow of blood, too busy to notice the suffering of Haiti, so Gina Athena Ulysse prays to other gods. From behind the curtain, before her entrance on the La Mama stage, she sings a Vodou song.
Ezili, save us as we are drowning she chants repeatedly as if in a trance, as if it were an incantation, as one endlessly says a rosary, and it is interminable this chant, as one says a rosary, Ezili, save us as we are drowning, because as one says a rosary endlessly, repeatedly, interminably, one keeps in memory events or mysteries in our history and it is true that we are drowning and it is true that we should be saved, Ezili, save us as we are drowning.
Weaving her powerful storypoems with these chants, Ulysse is ruthless, tender, sassy, and sometimes heartbreaking in her one-woman performance “Because When God is Too Busy: Haiti, Me and the World”. Whether exploring her rage at the dehumanization of Haitians: because they are too dark, too rebellious, not French enough, never, never, ever French enough…the ones Soeur Cecile called burnt potatoes and for whose salvation Ulysse prayed nightly Forgive her God for she does not know what she is doing, or reminiscing about spending the night on her knees, punished by her father and praying God whom she appointed as father, disowning her real father as Ponce Pilate, she sends us messages from the interior which are at once intimate and generously collective in a fascinating interplay that blurs the lines beween herself and her country:
Look what the mortals are doing to me
I planted corn
it turned into a reed
the reed turned into bamboo
it turned into a knife
to stab me…